|Posted by Lorraine Serra on June 8, 2014 at 12:30 AM|
Because I am an eternal optimist, and see the glass half full, I like to put a positive spin on things. I wasn’t always this way. There was enough turmoil in my younger life to make my whole family wonder if things would ever get better. ( See category "Real Answers for Life")
But, I can truly say that knowing Jesus Christ has made all the difference. When you know Jesus, well, He kind of rubs off on you!
My husband says I am the perpetual defense attorney, looking for ways to justify somebody’s behavior or comments., making excuses for them. I guess I like to give the benefit of the doubt, and be slow to judge an unfortunate circumstance. He says I gloss over infractions with a sort of “legalese”. I call it mercy….whether towards a stubborn child, a difficult neighbor or a news report.
At any rate, there are certainly times when our tongues get us in trouble. And there are times when our actions are lacking in grace. Choosing to be a “living sacrifice” is a tough choice indeed.
Our choice about what we say or do is the big challenge every day, in our marriages, families and business relationships. So, let me offer a fresh start with an outlook which may help all of us exert self-control, with the help of the Spirit, and be more of a “living sacrifice” before God.
The scripture says,
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O, God? They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!” Psalm 139:17-18
WOW! Let me bathe in that for a while! It is evident that He is always thinking about you and me.
Now, I have found this to be a great place to start when considering the question of HOW TO BE A LIVING SACRIFICE. These are words that encourage my heart to view my life as a response to such a loving God. When I think of sacrifice as an “offering”, and a “loving response”, the whole concept becomes clear. Let me explain.
Since God is always thinking about me, He sees my situation. He knows my need. He says He will fight my battles, and that He will guide my path.
He just wants to see a HEART loyal to Him, yielded to Him and trusting Him, no matter what. Am I willing to engage in this response and encounter the Living God? If so, how do I do it?
The love, mercy, kindness and compassion of Jesus are my model.
When I follow this model and choose to be slow to judge, quick to forgive, and open to hear the heart of another, I am, in fact, “laying down my life”, don’t you think? Suddenly, I am living the command to love others as I love myself. This is fundamentally sacrificial in nature.
And when I respond with gentleness to correction or disagreement, am I not in a way, “turning the other cheek”? When I forego having the “Last Word”, am I not choosing to be a “living sacrifice” and trusting God to fight my battles?
This is, of course, the ideal, the goal. Oh, it takes patience. It takes determination. It must be a conscious choice.
When our marriage was struggling early on, as just about every marriage does, it took a good bit of soul searching, and a few knock-down, drag out fights, to decide whether we would accept the challenge of choosing to be a living sacrifice towards each other or not. I mean, really, two becoming one flesh involves some PAIN! Some CONFLICT!
There were bouts of screaming, slamming doors and driving away mad. Mostly, on my part.
It is so much easier to envelop ourselves in a robe of hurt, disappointment and bitterness due to unrealized expectations than to choose to lay it all aside and serve the other person. So, believe me, I am not so naïve as to suggest that this is an easy lifestyle. But, isn’t it worth the promise of attaining a greater good in the long run? Are we willing to sacrifice what we are, with all our feelings of entitlement, for what we COULD BECOME?
Centering our focus squarely on the love and forgiveness Jesus has shown to us helped us to extend that same grace and understanding to one another. It saved our marriage. It made all the difference for us. It wasn’t easy, and there were times I literally had to hold my hand over my mouth.
But, the rewards of the challenge have been phenomenal. Unity, harmony, understanding, peace, gentle correction and instruction, joy….all the elements of love …..love never fails. 1 Cor. 13:8
God keeps His promises.
So, breaking it down as simply as possible, this mindset of becoming an “offering”, can be an action step to bring about a conscious awareness of God's presence with us:
in the middle of the humdrum routines of life,
in the middle of a pending argument or misunderstanding,
in marriage, in any relationship.
that life is a “Gift”, we are designed for a “purpose”, and the ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God while enjoying the blessed way in which He reveals His hand at work in us.
Conscious cooperation, I call it.
Sure, we will stumble, we will fail at times. But, condemnation and judgment are not part of God’s equation. We must emulate that model, as well. Jesus began every encounter of healing and rescue with the statement, “Your sins are forgiven. “ Being mindful and repentant of our failures, we need to know with all certainty, that whatever came before, we are cleansed, forgiven and accepted when we acknowledge the Greatest Sacrifice, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the atonement for our sins. What a Savior!
We need to extend that mercy and forgiveness to others, even when we may not be totally 100% in it all the way!! Something about making the choice gets the ball rolling and a heart change occurs. Ah, God is faithful! In His strength, we can do anything!
Oh, and what a Teacher! Jesus not only forgave sins, He also gave instructions to “go and do not practice your sin anymore.” Hmmm. Practice sin? Sounds like we need to leave behind the patterns of the past. Then, we can begin to walk in the light…..the Light of Christ.
With the help of His Holy Spirit, let the transformation begin!
I want to be a “living sacrifice” for my King! How about you?
I'd love to hear your comments and wisdom below. God bless you!
Categories: Living the Gospel...Really?